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CNN This Morning

Today, Funeral for Tyre Nichols as Family Demands Justice; Ice Storm Warnings Expanded Across Texas as Waves Hit U.S.; Israel's Netanyahu Says, If Asked, I'd Mediate Between Russia, Ukraine. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 01, 2023 - 07:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very sad situation. Obviously, we're heartbroken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really need to get them back to their habitat, because when you take them out of their habitat, they're kind of creatures of nature, so they need to be out in their habitat.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I think this is a question that everybody has been asking, like, all of these animals disappearing in the cages being tampered with.


LEMON: What the heck is happening at America's zoos? We have two monkeys that went missing in Dallas. There are 12 squirrel monkeys taken in Louisiana and an exotic toucan stolen in Florida. We're going to have much more on that.

HARLOW: Also this CNN exclusive, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making several major headlines in his one-on-one sit-down with our very own Jake Tapper. Was Israel behind the mysterious attack on Iran's nuclear sites and weapons program, and will Netanyahu become a mediator between Russia and Ukraine as this war rages on?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, we have new revelations in the brutal police beating of Tyre Nichols, as his family and the city of Memphis is preparing to mourn today in his funeral, happening just hours from now.

LEMON: Plus, a relentless and deadly ice storm is wreaking havoc all across the south. More than 1,000 flights already canceled today. Is there any relief in the forecast? We will get you there and talk about that.

But we start this morning in Memphis, where the heartbroken family of Tyre Nichols is preparing for his funeral, as the nation looks on, still reeling from the horrific police beating he endured. Last night, we saw his parents demand justice from the same spot the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his final mountaintop speech on the eve of his assassination.

And the fallout just keeps growing. CNN has obtained the initial police report, which paints a much different picture from what we all witnessed on that video. CNN has also learned the city of Memphis is preparing to release even more videos.

Straight now to Memphis, live for us, right outside the church where the funeral will take place, and that is our Ryan Young. Ryan, good morning to you.

As we prepare for Tyre's funeral, lots of developments in this case. What are you learning?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it's hard to imagine it's been a week since you were sitting here in Memphis and talking to the family and Ben Crump about all of the developments here. And you, of course, talked to the chief.

Now that we're looking at this incident report, you can see several things that sort of stand out. The officers really never mentioning that they went up in level of force against Tyre, when you also look at the fact that they said that he was sweating profusely and irate upon exiting the vehicle. When you watch the video, you can see it's actually the officers who approached that car with so much aggression.

And then going on from there, it says that Nichols grabbed for Detective Martin's gun and listed Martin as a victim. Those are several things that stood out to us, talking to several police officers yesterday. They say in Memphis, when you have to do excessive force or you have to go up in terms of level, in terms of meeting a suspect, you're supposed to put that in the report.

All of this surrounding a funeral that's going to have the nation's eyes on it, as Vice President Harris will be here as well. But listen to Tyre's brother yesterday talk about the pain they're feeling and the one they love so much.


JAMAL DUPREE, TYRE NICHOLS' BROTHER: My brother was the most peaceful person who's ever lived in this whole life the most. He's never lifted a finger to nobody, never raised his voice to nobody. If my brother was here today, and if he had to say something, he would tell us to do this peacefully.


YOUNG: And, Don, something that we wanted to do, we wanted to show you this video of Tyre skateboarding. So much of the video has been shown of him engaged with those officers, in that hospital bed. It's great to see this video of him while he was alive. Obviously today, the focus will be on his life and seeking justice. But it's the images of happiness and that skateboarding that we should all remember for this young man.

On top of all that, Don, you talked about it a little bit, the winter storm may play some role in all of this today, because, obviously, are worried about folks getting to this funeral because of all the ice that's on the streets. Don?

LEMON: Ryan Young, thank you very much.

COLLINS: House Republicans hold their first oversight and judiciary hearings today, using their new power to launch investigations into the Biden administration and Democrats. The GOP is hoping to tackle everything, from the border crisis to pandemic spending, and could also issue subpoenas as part of these probes.

CNN's Alayna Treene is live on Capitol Hill. Welcome to CNN, especially coming on CNN This Morning for the first time. This is going to be the first time we are seeing the GOP oversight in action. What are you going to be looking for?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, thank you, Kaitlan.


There's been a lot of anticipation leading up to today's hearings. It's really being seen as the first chance for members in both parties to test drive their messaging and see how these committees will operate on the public stage for the first time. Republicans James Comer and Jim Jordan, the top Republicans on the most high-profile committees, want to be seen as serious chairmen who are approaching these investigations in a methodical way.

And you can see that strategy with the topics and the themes of these hearings. The House Oversight Committee will be doing a hearing on waste and abuse in pandemic spending, and the oversight committee will be looking at the border. And these are issues that Republicans have vowed repeatedly throughout their time in the minority to investigate if they were to take the majority. And there are also issues that are really important to the Republican base.

But at the same time, they're not the type of, you know, overtly political themes that we know are coming, things like the Hunter Biden investigation or classified documents, even though those topics will have their time. Today, Republicans are hoping that these themes will show an air of legitimacy and really dig into substantial policy issues.

Mike Johnson of Louisiana, a member of the judiciary committee, has told me that they recognize they need to walk a tightrope with these hearings and really are trying to not scare a lot of voters by being overtly political from the get-go.

COLLINS: Yes. That's going to be a struggle for them, but for Democrats who are on these committees, how are they expected to handle these investigations and these hearings?

TREENE: Well, Democrats tell me that they don't just want to just play defense, they want to also go on offense. And you can kind of see that strategy with the leaders that they've chosen to serve on these committees. I mean, take Jamie Raskin. He is the Democrat who served on both of the Trump impeachment trials and was a fixture in those hearings, as well as a member of the January 6th committee. And he's really -- he's told me that he wants to debunk and refute and he's prepared to really have his team serve as a truth squad against a lot of the Republicans and the potential political nature that these investigations might take on.

You also have Dan Goldman, another fixture of the impeachment hearings for Donald Trump. He was the lead counsel during the first Trump impeachment trial. And AOC, I mean, one of the best communicators for Democrats, she's going to be really taking a lead role in pushing back against the right.

COLLINS: It sounds like you are going to be very busy, Alayna. Thank you so much. I'm so glad you're here joining us at CNN.

TREENE: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And next hour, we're going to talk more about this with the Republican whip, Congressman Tom Emmer, and the chair of the judiciary committee, Senator Dick Durbin. Both have a lot of questions for them.

HARLOW: All right. This morning, ice storm and warnings for them are expanding all across the state of Texas. This is as the extreme weather there wreaks havoc on roads. The National Weather Service is urging everyone in the warning areas to avoid driving, if possible. So far, two people have already died in accidents as sleet piled on top of ice and cars were backed up at least ten miles down this Texas highway, as jackknifed semi-trucks blocked both lanes of traffic.

Also a similar scene in Oklahoma, where icy roads caused this truck to lose control. Luckily, that cable barrier kept him out of oncoming traffic and he was not injured.

Let's go to Ed Lavendera. He joins us again this morning with more. So, we had you yesterday. Now you're at the airport, yikes. It's going to be hard for those planes to get deiced and get out of there. What are we looking?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a week of planes, trains and automobiles. We're at the DFW National Airport where there were hundreds of flight cancelations yesterday. Those flight issues will continue today. Already 1,200 flight cancelations because of this winter storm. Yesterday, that number topped out around 2,000 flight cancelations. Most of those happening here at Dallas-Ft. Worth International, Dallas Love Field as well as the Austin International Airport, as well. And so those nightmares will continue.

And I can tell you that a drive that would normally take me about half an hour to get here to the DFW Airport took well over an hour this morning with no traffic on the road. And that is one of the good things that we've seen in the last 24 hours, is that most people really heeding those warnings of staying off the roadways. And that is because this winter weather will continue to worsen again today. We've had a bit of a reprieve over last 15 hours or so. But another round, a third round of wintry mix expected to move through the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in the coming hours. So, that will just prolong this nightmare. So, it could be well into Thursday before there's really any kind of relief from the icy road conditions that we've seen. And there has been so much sleet and wintry mix that has fallen on the roadways and the cold temperatures. Everything is very much hardened up. So, it's going to take some time to recover from all of this. Poppy?

HARLOW: No question. Ed, thank you to you and your team for being out there and that reporting. Don?

LEMON: Well, this morning, Alec Baldwin officially facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting on the Rust movie set. Prosecutors allege Baldwin was not properly trained to handle the weapon that killed Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and that he showed a reckless disregard for safety.


CNN's Josh Campbell live in Los Angeles with more. Josh, good morning to you. How is Baldwin responding to the charges?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I reckon, Don, that his team will be aggressively fighting these charges. What is interesting, we knew the charges were coming, perhaps less expected was the amount of detail that prosecutors put into this charging document as they portrayed a movie set that was plagued by safety violations, even using Alec Baldwin's own words, his professed expertise in firearms in the film-making industry and then contrasting that with safety incident after safety incident that allegedly violates the film-making industry's standards. But, again, for his part, at this point, there's been no talk of a plea deal. We expect that his team will be putting up an aggressive defense.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help immediately (INAUDIBLE).

CAMPBELL (voice over): Baldwin and the film's armorer, Hanna Gutierrez-Reed, are charged with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of Hutchins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One female shot in the chest.

CAMPBELL: After ammunition from a gun Baldwin was using hit Hutchins, killing her, and injuring director Joel Souza. The charging documents released Tuesday said Baldwin was not present for mandatory firearms and safety training before filming. Reed stating Baldwin had only minimal training on the gun he was using. A training session for at least an hour or more in length was scheduled, but the actual training consisted of only approximately minutes, that's according Reed, Baldwin was distracted and talking on his cell phone to his family during the training. The documents also indicate that, according to expert armorers, in a rehearsal, a plastic gun, a replica gun should as no firing of blanks is required. New Mexico's first judicial district attorney told CNN this was a key factor when charges were announced.

MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY, NEW MEXICO: They shouldn't have even been using a live gun that day. They should have been using a rubber or a plastic gun. All of these things go together and show that there was just this complacency, lack of care on that set, and it's more than negligence. And I would say it rises to recklessness.

CAMPBELL: Hutchins was shot and killed outside of Santa Fe on October 21st, 2021. On that day, the assistant director, Dave Halls, yelled, cold gun, and handed a prop gun to Baldwin, who pulled it from a holster, according to an account in the search warrant affidavit. The scene called for Baldwin to point the gun towards the camera and at 1:50 P.M., a live round was fired, hitting Hutchins in the chest.

Do you know how the live round actually got on the set?

CARMACK-ALTWIES: We don't. And we might not ever know the answer to that question. They somehow got loaded into a gun, handed off to Alec Baldwin, he didn't check it, he didn't do any of the things that he was supposed to do to make sure that he was safe or that anyone around him was safe. And then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and he pulled the trigger.

CAMPBELL: The FBI determined that six live rounds were later discovered on the set, according to documents filed by the district attorney. Baldwin says that he will fight the charges and has denied he pulled the trigger the day of the shooting, telling CNN last year --

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I never once said -- never -- that the gun went off in my hand automatically. I always said I pulled the hammer back and I pulled it back as far as I could. I never took a gun and pointed it at somebody and clicked the thing.

CAMPBELL: But according to the charging documents, the FBI crime lab determined the weapon could not accidentally fire. For the weapon to fire, the trigger had to have been depressed or pressed. Baldwin, through an attorney, says he was assured the gun did not have live rounds and blames the armorerer and the assistant director for the accidental shooting. Both of their attorneys have accused Baldwin of deflecting blame, maintaining they were not at fault.

The attorney for Gutierrez-Reed issuing a statement saying in part, the district attorney has completely misunderstood the facts and that they will fight these charges and expect that a jury will find Hannah not guilty.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, we've learned that the film's assistant director, David Halls, has signed a plea agreement to a misdemeanor charge. He's expected to receive six months of probation. As far as what happens to Alec Baldwin next and the film's armorerer, the district attorney in Santa Fe told me that they will receive summons, they will be required to appear before a New Mexico court either in person or by video conference, and then we expect that both will be entering pleas of not guilty, Don.

LEMON: Josh Campbell, thank you.

HARLOW: Well, Russia is preparing for, quote, maximum escalation of the war in Ukraine in the coming weeks. That is according to a top Ukrainian national security official, who says that the Russians are gathering materials and doing drills in preparation for what comes next. This all comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells our very own Jake Tapper that he would consider serving as a mediator for Russia and Ukraine, but not unless he is asked.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: If I'm asked by both sides, and, frankly, if I'm asked by the United States, because I think, you know, you can't have too many cooks in the kitchen, you know? And I'm -- you know, we have our own backyard to deal with.


NETANYAHU: It's not that I don't think this is of monumental importance because I think the peace of the world is at stake, as I think the peace of the world is at stake with Iran getting nuclear weapons.


It will destabilize the entire world.

If asked by all relevant parties, I'll certainly consider it. But I'm not pushing myself in, you know, which is --


HARLOW: Let's get right to CNN Political and National Security Analyst David Sanger. He's also White House National Security Correspondent for The New York Times. David, good morning and thank you so much.

I think you need the context, right, behind Netanyahu saying that to determine how significant that may or may not be, the fact that they have really hedged to not upset Vladimir Putin too much. They have condemned Russia's actions but also only provided, you know, things that aren't weaponry and being criticized for that in terms of how they've aided Ukraine. So given that, how significant is what he told Jake?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, good morning. I think that anybody who could step in and mediate here, that would be welcome. And you could imagine a situation in which there might be a role for the new prime minister, Prime Minister Netanyahu, given the fact that he's got a close relationship with Putin and not many western leaders do.

But it's that same close relationship that complicates this. Elsewhere in Jake's terrific interview, you hear Prime Minister Netanyahu say, well, you know, we've got a complicated relationship with Russia, we're both dealing with Syria, we're both in Syria, and so forth. And it's that nature of that leadership has really kept Israel on the fence here, along with India and some other countries. And they have not provided Ukraine with almost anything, except very defensive weapons, and you could imagine given the missile attacks how a lot of Israeli technology might be very useful to Ukraine.

COLLINS: David, one thing that stood out to me was he said he needed to be asked by the Russians and the Ukrainians to step in, but also the United States. Do you think that's going to happen?

SANGER: Well, I think that the Russians at this point show no particular interest in having a negotiated settlement, as your earlier report indicated, Kaitlan, they're getting ready to do a big offensive here. The Ukrainians are getting ready for a big counteroffensive. And so there's really been no diplomacy underway because both sides, both believe that they can get the advantage. And they would not want to go to the bargaining table until they had the upper hand. And that's why I'm fearful that this is a year of long, grinding war.

Also, after many months in which the Russians have been on retreat, they finally seem to have at least found their footing a bit, and I think there's a lot of concern here in Washington that the sheer numbers and weight of what they're going to throw at this offensive could begin to swing things back in their direction a bit.

LEMON: Well, one wonders, I mean, is there really a solution to all of this? There's growing concerns both here and in Israel about Israel's move to the right, that somehow it's becoming more isolationist, more, you know, conservative, moving away from its democratic roots. And then Benjamin Netanyahu says, listen, I'm not going to get hung up on peace negotiations with the Palestinians, saying that he has opted for a different approach. So, to what end to any of this, if he doesn't appear to be open to what the Biden administration is saying, a two-state solution?

SANGER: Don, it's a fascinating question, and just the right question. I thought some of the most interesting parts of Jake's interview were Netanyahu's defense of this effort to alter the law so that Supreme Court rulings in Israel could be overridden by just a majority in Israel's parliament, the Knesset. And that, of course, would basically neuter the Supreme Court as a force that's moderating this, as you say, most right-wing government we have seen in Israel.

I think the other thing that was really missing in Netanyahu's responses in Jake's interview was any sort of a peace plan or interest in a peace negotiation. He said nothing other than we're there to guarantee security.

COLLINS: Yes, it was remarkable. But, I mean, it also comes at a time when this hasn't been a huge priority for the Biden administration either. It was a fascinating interview overall. David, thank you for joining us this to analyze it. We really appreciate it.

SANGER: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And also this morning, we're going to have more of Jake Tapper's exclusive interview in the next hour. We'll show you that. You don't want to miss it.

Also this morning, new video, it's a deposition video with former President Trump, where he invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 400 times. He wasn't so tight-lipped when it came to calling out his former attorney, though. Michael Cohen is actually here. He is going to join us live, that's next.



LEMON: Newly released video shows former President Trump during an August deposition with the New York Attorney General's Office. Trump was deposed as part of the Attorney General Letitia James' civil investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices. Former President Trump invoked the Fifth more than 400 times.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I decline to answer the question.

I decline to answer the question.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.


LEMON: That was -- yes. In the deposition, former President Trump also took swipes at his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Letitia James relied on the testimony of Michael Cohen, a convicted felon and liar.

This is the witness, a stone-cold loser, a real loser, that's she used to justify her obsessive work.


LEMON: So, Cohen is a key figure in several investigations and the New York A.G.'s investigation into Trump started after Cohen testified to Congress.


This was in 2019, and when he said this.


MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.


LEMON: So, here in Manhattan, the district attorney has convened a grand jury to present evidence in a revamped investigation to the effort to stop Stormy Daniels from going public about an alleged affair with Trump. Cohen facilitated the payments and was reimbursed by the Trump Organization. He pleaded guilty to nine federal charges, including campaign finance violations and was sentenced to three years in prison. Here's what Trump said in 2018 about the payment.


REPORTER: Do you know about the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels?


REPORTER: Then why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: You would have to ask Michael Cohen.


LEMON: Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen joins me now. He is the author of the book, Revenge. You can buy it now and he is here to discuss what is going on. Thank you very much. I really appreciate you joining us.

Listen, first of all, let me get your -- I want to get your response to deposition that you just saw here, pleading the Fifth more than 400 times. COHEN: It's expected. I mean, Donald cannot keep track of the lies that he tells. And so what better way to stop a fool from being deposed and hurting himself further than to tell him to plead the Fifth at least 400 times.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, this new -- I shouldn't say new investigation, but would you call it a revamped investigation now? How would you describe it?

COHEN: Let's say, reinvigorated.

LEMON: Reinvigorated. So, your role in the Stormy Daniels payments, right, you call it the hush money payment. Remind our viewers what your role was.

COHEN: So, I was contacted by David Pecker in regard to Stormy Daniels. She then -- and that goes back into early, the 2011 period, but then, again, right before the election. I was then asked by Donald to handle it with Allen Weisselberg. And what that really meant for me was to resolve it. And so I did, but I did it at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.

LEMON: David pecker was the Enquirer?

COHEN: That's correct.

LEMON: Weiselberg?

COHEN: Is the CFO of the Trump Organization.

LEMON: Which has faced repercussions for?

COHEN: And is now sitting in Rikers Island.

LEMON: There you go. Okay. So, a lot of this is centered on you, this reinvigorated investigation that you talk about. How were you contacted and what happened when you -- with your interactions with the D.A.s? office?

COHEN: So, I had dealt with the D.A. 13 times prior to my most recent revisit to the D.A., my first time under the Bragg administration. They contacted me. Most recently, they asked for my cell phones, because they want to be able to extract from it the voice recordings that I had had with Keith Davidson, former attorney to Stormy Daniels before Michael Avenatti, as well as a bunch of emails, text messages and so on. That way, it could be used as evidence if, in fact, that they proceed forward, which I would suspect they are.

LEMON: Well, you turned over a lot of information, the initial -- I mean, because they searched your home and your property, right?

COHEN: I didn't turn it over. I was raided by the FBI and they took it.

LEMON: All right. So, this is new stuff that you turned over to?

COHEN: It's the same stuff, but it's new to the district attorney. They've seen some of it, but now they're in full possession of it.

LEMON: Okay. People are wondering why Donald Trump has not faced any sort of repercussions for -- you went to prison, he did not. How do you view this investigation? What is his culpability here? Do you think that he will face consequences for this investigation?

COHEN: So, I've said all along that I thought the D.A.'s case is by far the simplest to prove and it is the most destructive to Donald Trump individually and to his business as well. I do believe that he will see repercussion for the first time in almost his entire life. We've seen quite a few cases now, whether it's Weisselberg's incarceration, whether it's the 17 counts against the Trump Organization, and now with the attorney general's case, I think we're going to see a lot of repercussion to Donald Trump.

LEMON: Why do you believe that and what does that look like?

COHEN: Well, remember, the attorney general's case is civil in nature and people make the constant mistake of $250 million. That's the base that they're talking about. That's not the max. I think it will be more in the neighborhood of $700 million, based upon at least the information that I know.

LEMON: $700 million what, what do you mean?

COHEN: In terms of fines.

LEMON: $700 million in fines?

COHEN: That's correct. That's what I think that Tish James' case will ultimately demonstrate.


LEMON: Why should anyone believe Michael Cohen? Michael Cohen is a convicted felon.

COHEN: Yes, that's true.